Climbing accident: The Belair device came loose

Climbing accident: The Belair device came loose

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As far as inanimate objects go, a quick draw is not an ideal insurance method. In the case of this accident, the harness device separated from his harness as soon as the commander fell. Chances of this happening? Almost impossible odds, but while climbing we need to be mindful of the unexpected and use strict safety measures including double checking the lock of our stabilizer. Photo: masT3rOD/Flickr; CCP 2.0

We were climbing Chuckwalla Mountain in southern Utah when we witnessed an accident. My partner had just reached the top of his trail. As I started to lower it, I heard a rope slide free. I looked to my left, and a climber was free falling about 60 feet. Then he suddenly stopped. His guard looked surprised. His stabilizer had somehow come loose from his belt and he was now stuck on the first quick pull. It was the only thing holding the climber down. We quickly had someone put the climber back in place and remove the jammed device from the rope. The worst part was that the bunker had no idea how this happened.
—Eric Freiberg, via email

Lesson: This sounds kind of cool — how does a quick pull lock the rope? — but crazy things happen all the time, so on that note… Unless the belt buckle breaks, there is only one way this can happen. The carabiner had to come loose from the belt. This is only possible if it is not locked. Always make sure your carabiner is locked, then ask your partner to double-check before they start climbing. For added assurance, use a self-locking carabiner so it can’t unscrew itself while climbing, and choose an anti-cross-loading design that keeps the harness and carabiner facing in the correct direction such as the Metolius Gatekeeper.

do you want more? Check out more installments in our growing dangerous behavior hall:

The gear ring has been lowered

They used parachute rope for slings

There is no anchor set on the multipitch, and the leader falls

Lucky he didn’t die. Taken down from the Carabiner game

Unfortunate landing, lucky landing

Leader formations when an experienced climber messes up a belay

He saw through someone else’s rope

Hand tied only – no device!

Smoke brick weed and go climbing

Belay with a knife in your hand

Don’t let an ignorant parent take a child climbing

I felt frustrated and unrestrained – on the lead

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